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Author Topic: tripod ball heads  (Read 2240 times)
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Zeke
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« on: August 31, 2012, 05:00 PM »

bought one rated at 13.3 lbs load because the salesman told me my camera (Nikon D70) and lens weighed less than 7lbs.  the lens I intended to use is an old telephoto (sigma 150-500) that weighs 6-7lbs alone and with the camera falls into the 'design limits' of the ball head. so here's the question. exactly how much difference or leeway does the rating on the ball head make? would there be any cosmic significance if the rating was 20lbs or even 40lbs?
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indigo_wolf
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 06:58 PM »

bought one rated at 13.3 lbs load because the salesman told me my camera (Nikon D70) and lens weighed less than 7lbs.  the lens I intended to use is an old telephoto (sigma 150-500) that weighs 6-7lbs alone and with the camera falls into the 'design limits' of the ball head.

Did you tell the sales person what lens you were going to be using and it's vintage or did you just say the D70 and a 150-500mm lens?  Unless he probed, he might have assumed a more current and much lighter lens.

so here's the question. exactly how much difference or leeway does the rating on the ball head make? would there be any cosmic significance if the rating was 20lbs or even 40lbs?

It's not like your ballhead will shear off the tripod and go rolling down the hill.  Different manufacturers and designs (there are quite a few ballhead variants) will have different tolerances. At or beyond their limits, you will see the ballhead "creep" or slip from the position that you set it at.  Over time, as you crank the ballhead down harder to get it to maintain it's position, you'll cause the vice/clamping mechanism to wear faster. 

Worst case scenario with immediate consequences:  You are momentarily distracted, the ballhead creeps enough to unbalance the tripod and sends the whole thing tumbling.

Are you using the tripod mount on the camera or does the lens support a lens collar with a tripod mount?  The latter would take some of the strain off of the ballhead, by allowing the camera to counterweight the weight of the lens.

ATB,
Sam
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madhabitz
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 11:00 AM »

Did you buy a cheapie with plastic or soft metal parts? If you can swing it get a Bogen tripod. Worth their weight in gold.

Nancy
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chilese
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 01:06 PM »

If the unit is all metal, any failure at the ball should be slow enough for you to handle.

To avoid litigation, most consumer goods are designed to a Factor of Safety.

Most reputable companies will have a FOS of at least 50% and all should have at least 25%.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 03:55 PM by chilese » Logged

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madhabitz
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 01:57 PM »

It's a Manfrotto,  all alloy

Bogen Manfrotto is just about the best. Agree with John, you should be okay if the ballhead thingie is in the same class.



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Allen Carter
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2012, 09:28 PM »

would there be any cosmic significance if the rating was 20lbs or even 40lbs?

A bigger ball head would certainly be sturdier, but with the kind of camera and lens you're using, it's not so much strength as smoothness and stability. A bigger ball has much more friction in whatever mechanism so you can move the camera without worrying about it flopping over. I have a new manfrotto/bogen head that holds my heaviest lens/camera combo securely, but with the big lens i have to be supporting the weight when I loosen the ball even a bit. Cost about $90. Maybe the third from the smallest? It doesn't have the quick release plate so it was a good price/size combo. If I used it a  lot, I'd get a much larger one, but for what I do, this is great.
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2012, 01:13 AM »

just what is needed for taking shots of the royals in the south of france...... Smiley Smiley Smiley

like kites there are a bezillion reasons for all the different types (of ball head) available.

if you are using the tripod so that you can use slow shutter speeds without "shake" then (imo) the ball head must be able to hold the camera firmly.

take a look at the end of your lens in a 12 mile an hour wind or tap the camera with a finger in your bedroom or drop a stick on the tripod leg in the forest - smallest movement at the end of your lens means a lot of movement at the sensor of the d70 which means the image wont be sharp and you could have left the tripod at home

check if it is the ball head (often is) that is the weak link but many tripods can also let a ball head down - whatever the sales person says you really need to get your camera, heaviest (greatest windage) lens together with the tripod/ball head combo and try it out.

if you want sharp long exposure pics is best to over engineer the supports. if you want the tripod for group shots or other stuff where you can use faster shutter speeds you dont need to worry about all this stuff
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david barnby
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2012, 05:20 AM »

yeah

as i said:

1. try out the stuff together with your gear - has nothing to do with brand or price (unless you buy the top end gear like arca-swiss for over 300 bucks). I have a 60 buck triton that looks similar, does a great job for me but few pros would use it for an important assignment

2. lack of sharpness from camera shake dosent result from mirrors or low light. It happens because the chosen shutter speed is slow enough for the camera movement to be recorded. Stop the camera moving and you are fine. The mirror can be locked up (on your D70 too if i remember) and you should use the lovely nikon ir remote (around 15 bucks) so that you don't touch the camera to release the shutter. You can use the timer too if 15 bucks too rich.

was your son successful with the old tripod?
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Allen Carter
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2012, 09:17 AM »

If I used it a  lot, I'd get a much larger one

That's really the key. I don't expect this ball head to work well in wind or or with trucks rolling by. It's a convenience. It's fine for 1/4second exposures in good conditions with the 180 2.8. The tripod head I'd use for really steady work (an old Bogen 3047) is relatively cheap, but much more bulky. I'm using the relatively small ball head on a fairly heavy tripod as well. A really good ball head is an expensive (and usually heavy) item.

Most tripods are so bad that the head is only part of the problem. When I went tripod shopping last year after more than 20 years, I found that even some brands which used to be generally fine had deteriorated. I ended up buying a known-good early '80s vintage Bogen 3020 off eBay for very little cash. I used several of these in my career, so familiarity and nostalgia won out. Great support.
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Allen, AKA kitehead
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2012, 09:07 PM »

Quote

Next step is to find a chart of Nikon cameras comparing model# and sensor size.


http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/nikon_articles/body/chart/nikon_dslr_chart.html

Sounds like we have the same ball head. I wouldnt trust my gear to any cheaper brand, manfrotto/bogen is as low as I go for camera supports. It's only partly about whether the tripod/head combo can hold the camera steady, it's about keeping the camera from hitting the ground.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 09:18 PM by Allen Carter » Logged

Allen, AKA kitehead
david barnby
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2012, 10:45 PM »

great stuff - if you want that level of detail on nikon gear the Nikon compendium is a good place to start (sometimes seen on eBay) or the info is out there on the web. For lenses I google "Nikon serial numbers" for a great table I know is out there

My favourite tripod is a bit of a "stranger level 7" - it is the Benbo.  Way too heavy for hiking etc - I use a carbon fibre tool for that.
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chilese
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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2012, 11:05 PM »

Even if your tripod is lightweight when out on a shoot, you

can add stability by adding weight (backpack, water bottles) to

the tripod under the camera.

Here's a few ideas. The backpack is probably your best bet on a hike.

3lb Tripod Weights


http://lifehacker.com/5878270/add-a-weight+stabilizing-hook-to-your-camera-tripod
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John Chilese: Las Vegas, NV
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david barnby
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2012, 11:32 PM »

good point bb

Won't help a wobbly ball head but is a good way even with a solid tripod to stabilise things. Everything helps.
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david barnby
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2012, 12:01 AM »


Don't suggest you:

1. Put grease on ball head - if it gets anywhere near where it shouldn't it could be nasty
2. Call me Barbnaby - call me any name but don't get my name wrong

If your son used the tripod for jewlery and fashion shots he would have been using flash so the shutter speed would have been fast enough to ensure a sharp image even with a shaky support
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